TaN: As to the controversy besetting Boracay regarding the health safety and hygiene issue and the threat to close the resort island for a year, it is actually quite simple to resolve.
It is understandable that businesses and the local residents who depend (entirely) on the tourist trade are alarmed at the threat of closure of activities for such an extended duration, especially for most of the stakeholders as they do not have enough saved income to last them that long. For businesses, unless they are the small operations where the income is rolled or re-invested weekly or monthly, the pause could spell permanent closure.
However, it must likewise and equally be admitted that the environment needs a respite from the over-loaded and irresponsible activities of local businesses, local residents, and tourists alike.
As a reasonable compromise, I offer the following:
(1) there should be complete cessation of business and commercial tourism activities (after a reasonable grace period) until such time that the environment shall have sufficiently recovered from the destructive onslaught of our collective and single-minded desire for profit and revenue — this is non-negotiable;
(2) that a timetable be established and strictly adhered to for the suspension of all tourism-related activities but flexible enough that the termination may be done prematurely but if and only if it can and has been proven that all environmental protection violations have been properly addressed and the environment has recuperated significantly enough to resume tourism-related activities;
(3) there is a reliable and implementable mechanism to ensure there will never be another incident or occasion in the future that shall warrant another suspension of commercial activities;
(4) an oversight and impartial and dis-interested multi-sectoral watchdog be formed to closely monitor and guarantee strict compliance to all pertinent laws, policies, regulations, and environmental protective and sanitation measures and safeguards against future repetitions; and,
(5) most important of all, all those (officials and private individuals et al) who are or have been tasked to ensure and implement all the relevant government policies, laws and regulations, and all other pertinent measures that directly or indirectly have a bearing on the proper and sustainable management and exploitation of whatever Boracay can offer, should be held accountable — as in those who signed and/or issued the permits, who did the ocular (regular and annual) inspections (upon completion), who approved of the plans or blueprints (where it would have shown how the waste and sewage disposal system connects to the existing public sewage system or a proper waste treatment facility before elimination to the environment), and whoever else with the responsibility to ensure that there is proper compliance and adherence to polices and regulations for the duration of the existence of the business/commercial establishment (and probably even upon termination or permanent closure) be they in the local and/or national level — which means they must be given due process and be punished (if ever found to be liable and accountable) for neglect or graft and corruption or incompetence or conspiracy or whatever violation has been incurred.
In the event that the environmental disaster is not due to neglect or any person’s fault but because of a flaw in the system or policy or regulation, immediate attention must be given to determine the exact reason for the predicament and corrective or remedial measures be instituted. And, although it may appear to be drastic and even perhaps too little too late, an immediate audit of all tourist resorts and commercial coastal areas should be conducted to ferret out other possible places that may harbor or require similar actions.
In conclusion, it suddenly dawned on me that it is not enough that there are zoning laws — i.e., regulations as to the quantity and physical descriptions of structures within a particular populated area or population center — but there should likewise be maximum human load presence as well as activities. This came to me when the news featured certain tourists sights that have passed or enacted limitations or restrictions regarding the number of tourists a particular tourist sight or attraction can accommodate in a day, especially the natural formations or man-made that are irreplaceable (such as caves, underground rivers, museums, and archæological dig sites). Even just the mere increased presence of carbon dioxide from human exhalation could cause irreparable damage to or even just disturb a delicately-balanced ecosystem, not to mention bringing up the ambient temperature from the collective body heat and increase in oily and acidic moisture from the collective body perspiration.
TaN: As I followed the developments in the case filed before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Mr Duterte, it suddenly dawned on me that there are so much lies (or fake news, if you want to be current) going around. The current controversy over fake news and being technical and literal with the law and making statements that are taken back later are all different aberrations of telling falsehoods.
When one makes a (controversial) statement then, after a negative backlash, declares that it was only a joke and, in addition, that one is or has publicly and repeatedly admitted to be prone to tell falsehoods every so often is admitting that one is or has consistently been lying. Just as it was editorialized many years ago (on the defunct RPN Channel 9) when the late Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago claimed that she was misquoted from a statement she made the previous day: That when one is telling the truth, one can never be misquoted.
But this is not the sad thing. What is sad is that the public is taking it (without so much as a whimper or sense of being insulted), which is supposedly evidenced in the still high survey ratings that is consistently being given Mr Duterte. Furthermore, it amazes and astounds me no end to realize that the average Filipino is no fool and yet s/he continues to fail to see through the misdeeds and misbehavior and it makes me wonder whether the surveys are really reliable or not. But then again, as the saying goes: People see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear or, to put it another way, None are as blind as those who refuse to see.
In the continuing saga and controversy of Mr Duterte pulling the Philippines out of the Rome Statute — nota bene: I qualified that it is Mr Duterte’s own initiative to withdraw the Philippines from the treaty and not the decision of the country because there was never any consultation done to get a consensus, especially at least from the Senate whose concurrence is required by the Constitution to ratify treaties before the said treaties become part of the law of the land — all sorts of excuses and explanations and defensive justifications have been given to make it appear that the Philippines, and not (just) Mr Duterte, who is being harassed and ganged up on by (segments of) the international community via the United Nations so Mr Duterte deemed that it is his duty to protect the country. In truth, the international fervor is not directed towards the Philippines but only at Mr Duterte but, being the sly shyster that he is, it is being made to appear that the entire Philippines is being targeted and singled out and not him.
I could not agree with Commission on Human Rights commissioner Mr Roberto Cadiz more — in the news article in the hardcopy March 21, 2018 issue in page 5 of The Philippine STAR titled “‘No need for public consultation on ICC withdrawal’” by a certain Janvic Mateo and I quote “(Commission on Human Rights (CHR) commissioner Roberto) Cadiz noted that the decision to withdraw from the ICC appears to be made by the President on a personal level.” — when he said that the decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute was purely personal and not in defense of the state against international and biased and baseless attacks on his country as Mr Duterte would like everyone to believe.
The biggest and clearest indication that Mr Duterte is “in panic mode” is the consistent and persistent output of excuses and explanations for his decision to withdraw — when only one should be enough.
In conclusion, as to the different supporting statements from such sources as China and Russia, we all know regarding the saying, Birds of the same feather…are the same birds or the “mutual admiration society”.
TaN: At the root of one of the causes of corruption in the Philippines is the widespread and rampant characteristic of the Filipino to be nonchalant (read: inefficient), which is being interpreted or justified as “tolerance for tardiness or patient”. It is because Filipinos have this trait of being “laid back” in addition to the inability to distinguish between urgent and important matters and those that are not.
Because urgent and important matters are treated as day-to-day matters, this de-motivates or “desensitizes” people, especially when dealing with government and legal matters, into taking transactions as mundane and ordinary — when, in fact, they are vital to the people, such as birth and death certificates and clearances which could mean lost or delayed employment opportunities or benefits claims — which eventually redounds to needing padrinos, grease money, and/or other forms of “incentives” to facilitate processing and matters. Many government and public servants do not take their jobs seriously (enough) and look at it as a source of income rather than a public service.
There is very little professionalism that can be seen in many a government office, especially those that are not front-line and there is little contact with the public whom they are supposed to be serving. This is especially widespread and rampant when the leadership is perceived not only to be tolerant of and to but even encouraging of such behavior and practices — but, of course, not as a matter of (public) policy and not in so many words. Remember, leadership by example; the people follow and emulate what their leader is perceived to be doing or acting.
Add to this the fact that there are many services that should be given freely — as they are already accounted for in the annual budget of the department, such as fees and materials — but the public must shell out payment to get those services and documents just because the law or government policy permits them the discretion to “generate additional income” through such services and documents.
As discussed in a previous TaN, there is no reason for government to charge fees and payments for services and documents that are basically non-commercial and income-generating that the public needs. It is understandable to charge for business permits and filing of lawsuits and such but to require payment for things such as clearance certificates (for personal even if or especially for employment and not business purposes) and mandatory identification cards (such as social security) is just inviting corruption and red tape.
As in the forewarning in 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV), “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows“. It has been said that whenever money gets into the picture, no matter how noble or noteworthy the argument or cause, it is and will always be about the money. And it is bad enough that the perpetrator of that love of money brings sorrow and misery upon his/her own self and soul, but to inflict them on others as well, especially those who are innocent and good.
In conclusion, if, aside from the annual budget that a government agency or office receives (for its office supplies, salaries, and other anticipated expenditures), the budgetary allocation still proves inadequate and additional funds are needed to ensure proper and correct delivery of services and functioning of a government agency or office, the government should start thinking about exacting taxes from “traditional” untaxed or tax-exempt sources — such as schools and religious institutions — that are unfairly enjoying the benefits of government services while not contributing their share to the burden of funding government expenditures (such as police and fire protection, road use, senior and disabled privileges, and a slew of other entitlements and obligations)
TaN: The implementation of the banning of one-use plastics is a good first step. I only hope it does not stop there.
Moreover, such a ban is not a guarantee nor assurance that there will be less plastics in the garbage. It all depends on the consuming public.
There is nothing to prevent anyone from throwing away, after a single use, plastics that are (obviously) recyclable or re-usable. It is all in the mindset and discipline (and commitment and dedication) of the consuming public.
Bringing one’s own (reusable) containers and bags whenever one makes a purchase or goes shopping is definitely a personal commitment and it can be reinforced by corresponding and complementary or reciprocal incentives by the vendor/business establishment — like, say, giving a sizable discount or “reward points” and keeping a record for regular repeat patrons that earn progressively larger discounts over time.
Moreover, the greatest challenge is to change the mindset of the average consumer, to change his attitude towards bringing their own bags and containers. Many feel “awkward” having to tote along an empty shopping bag or container and even more is the “fear” of being looked upon as “poor” (i.e., one who cannot afford to pay the little extra for not bringing their own bags or containers), after all it does not cost as much as their ego or public image.
Finally, there is the biggest issue of food safety — because plastics are toxic to health and there is literally no person alive who does not have some detectable amount of plastic in the body [remembering that “plastic” is a generic term that covers, describes or refers to a very wide variety of polymer (or giant molecule) materials ranging from shopping and school (and other) bags, drinking and baby (feeding) bottles and containers, canned food lining, wrappers and packaging materials, food containers, waterproofing compounds, tape and adhesive strips, garment and clothing fabrics, jewelry and appliance components (as well as in printed circuits and other internal parts of consumable/consumer electronics), vehicular parts (such as seats and seat upholstery and internal cabin components like the dashboard) and a host of others].
To say that plastics are ubiquitous is a gross understatement.
TaN: It is very disappointing to see media practitioners, especially professionals and industry icons or respected and multi-awarded personalities, to endorse products and services (be they in print or broadcast media). It is not as if they are not earning enough.
Moreover, this likewise extends to product/service endorsements in media programs — not only in form of infotainment or infomercial but — where specific brand names serve as sponsors for the program to continue airing or running.
And even if the reason behind the endorsement is because they believe in it and would like others to share in the experience, it still does not justify or warrant repeated endorsements, especially if the wording comes on as a promotion (because the words are “standardized”).
I wonder how such people consider and feel comfortable being called or referred to as professionals in their careers when they know very well they are abasing themselves for the sake of financial or other non-profession-related gains.